Who can see what I do Online?

If you are a member of the online community, you probably know that the Internet is not a safe place. There is a lot of malware and viruses out there that you need to look out for. But even the sites that appear to be reliable, in reality, aren’t. Of course, they will not destroy your computer or steal your identity, but they look and track your Internet activity. Sir Francis Bacon once said, knowledge is power. Today information is not only power but also money.  

Tactile internet

Have you ever visited an online shop, didn’t buy anything, and the next day you see a few ads of the product you were looking at? Well, there is proof that it is happening. You are being spied on. But who is looking? What are they looking for? And should you let them do this?  

Traps of the web

If you don’t have security software or you don’t follow the latest Security Gladiators news, you might not know all the dangers of the Internet. When you are surfing the web, your actions are registered by cookies and Javascript plug-ins encrypted in the websites. There are also different types of tracking scripts created and non-JavaScript web bugs. You enter, let’s say a news site, and you provide information to dozens of companies. 

The biggest sites then make your information visible to more than ten different tracking domains. The tracking domains use this information to their advantage. They provide you with ads and different kinds of offers that are more personalised or use the tracking to increase the price of the goods that they know; you want to buy anyway. 

Airlines use this technique on their sites, for example. So if you are constantly checking the price of the flight you would like to buy, it will get more expensive the more you wait for the price to come down. 

Even more dangerous can be your social media apps. Those apps track everything you click on and look at. The software of social media apps is able to recognise objects on the pictures, faces, and your preferences. They use this knowledge for ads purposes and to feed you with content you care for. Simply saying, they want to get you addicted. 

Can your Internet provider look at what you are doing online? 

The answer to this question is yes. It is not just the owners of the websites you click on that can follow your actions, you Internet Service Provider, or ISP, does it too. Their reason for looking is that it is a standard procedure to prevent abuse of pornographic sites and online fraud. However, some IPSs recently agreed to get involved with global marketing companies to sell details of your web habits. 

Why should you care about this? 

The question that you must have on your mind now is, what does it matter? You get ads everywhere, and if you see advertisements for the things you like, maybe it is beneficial to you? You must have heard that governments try to stop crime using information from the web. Unfortunately, reality is not that simple. It all works as long as people use this information without harming anyone. But the governments change, the politics of huge companies as well. One day you may wake up in the world where they will use this information against you. Besides, hackers try to steal your personal data every day, are the websites you visit prepared for that, is your ISP? If you assume your information is safe with companies, you might rethink your naivety. 

How can you protect yourself? 

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of being tracked continuously. What you need to do first is to make sure you have either a hardware or software-based firewall. You might even want to get both. You should also check if you already have a firewall installed in your router. If you do, make sure it is active. 

Next, have an up to date anti-virus software installed on your computer. If you don’t have anti-virus in the first place, get one immediately. This is an investment in your security and sanity. 

Download documents and files only from trusted sites, look for a padlock sign next to the website address. 

Lastly, get in touch with your Internet Service Provider and find out if they are selling data to marketing companies, or if they plan to do so. If the answer is yes, consider changing your provider to one that will respect your personal information more. 

The Internet is the most dangerous place in the world. Anything can happen, and your information is not safe there. The most important thing is that you already know that and now you can take action to prevent bad things from happening.

You know what they say, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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